Review: Hotel Artemis

June 9, 2018
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Every once in a while a movie will come out with a huge cast, interesting premise, and awesome trailer that you never heard of.  Movie nerds like me are usually tuned into almost every movie that’s currently in production.  Hotel Artemis is one that completely came out of nowhere.  The trailer came out only a month before the movie did and made it look really cool.  After digging into why I didn’t hear about this movie I found that it was because it was made with little enthusiasm around it and only went to the Berlin Film Festival, which isn’t one of the big ones.  However, that was enough for Lionsgate to purchase the film and release wide in America.  Movies that have a story like that (being made independently and didn’t go to a lot of film festivals) don’t usually do well and Hotel Artemis is no different.

The premise of the film is of a mysterious hotel filled with unsavory characters who can’t leave and end up turning on each other.  If that sounds exactly like the movie Bad Times at The El Royale, which comes out during Oscar season, you’d be right.  Both movies have similar plots and killer casts but what sets them apart is the maestro behind it.  Granted, I haven’t see Bad Times at The El Royale and this isn’t a review for that film but it’s written and directed by Drew Goddard who gave us Cloverfield, The Martian, and the utter masterpiece Cabin in the Woods.  Hotel Artemis was written and directed by Drew Pearce who wrote Iron Man 3 and directed…well, nothing of feature length before this.  Needless to say, one has a higher pedigree attached to it and Hotel Artemis suffers because of it.

The film has a truly impressive cast of great character actors playing wacky roles.  Jeff Goldblum, Charlie Day (FXX’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, Pacific Rim), Dave Battista (Guardians of the Galaxy), Zachary Quinto (Star Trek, NBC’s Heroes), Sofia Boutella (Atomic Blonde, The Mummy), Sterling K. Brown (Black Panther, NBC’s This is Us), and the semi-retired Jodi Foster.  There is a lot of talent there and everyone gives it their best but there’s only so much you can do with a script as boring as this.  Makes you wonder why any of these people would have signed on to be in this in the first place.

The only real winner of this film is the production design.  Since almost the entire film takes place in the hotel, the design is really cool.  Despite taking place in the near future, the film harks back to the 1960s with a really cool rundown art deco look.  Everything is dimly lit and gives the film a feel of claustrophobia that is pretty cool.  There are some funny moments and semi-cool action sequences but overall Hotel Artemis manages to take a cool concept that could have amped up tension for 90 minutes to have an all-out powder keg ending but instead plods around for 90 minutes with confusing conflicts and uninteresting backstories that sputters into a climax that feels hella unsatisfying.

Normally I’d be really bummed out that a movie with such a cool premises turned out to be a dud, but in this case, I feel like I have a back-up with Bad Times at The El Royale.  Hotel Artemis, in the meantime, is a profound disappointment even though I didn’t even know anything about it until a month ago.  With a cast as awesome as this, it should have been a slam dunk but this wannabe noir thriller turned out be dull, confusing, and miserable showing for a first time director.